May 1st 2017 — International Workers’ Day — New York
In Europe, International Workers’ Day has been celebrated for decades on May 1st with myriad events across the continent; in the United States, this day has increasingly fallen into obscurity, losing its original objective of expressing political opposition to the status quo through large public gatherings in the streets.
This year, however, May 1st was marked in the US by a renewed significance. The wave of protests that rose spontaneously throughout the country in the wake of Trump’s election (from the Women’s March and the International Women’s Strike to the many immigration and environmental rallies and the Black Lives Matter actions) set the stage for a larger and louder celebration of workers’ rights, one that aimed to give continuity to the many acts of opposition that took place during the beginning of the year.
As this year’s International Workers’ Day approached, activists, trade unions and civil rights organizations joined the call for a general strike and a series of protests in all major American cities.
In New York, thousands took to the streets to defend workers’ rights, calling for a greater freedom to unionize and marching against the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to attack immigrant workers. A heterogenous constituency, composed of various special interest blocs, mobilized to express a wide range of demands as well as the desire to hold together the different issues in a single movement: from the fight against deportation to the right to universal healthcare; from the Fight for $15 to the struggle against Right-to-Work laws. Starting at 9am, rallies, picket lines and marches began appearing across the city, with the last actions continuing into the evening — a demonstration of solidarity that proved once again the city’s unique ability to flex its muscle in this age of heightened political strife.
Some of the most urgent calls to action came from the immigrant groups and their representatives. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the United States find themselves forced to work under-payed, under-the-table jobs — and now they face a renewed fear of ICE raids in the workplace and its increasingly aggressive deportation policy.
WOPS was present in the streets of New York gathering images and testimonies from the protest actions.